(I Am) Nobody's Lunch (4 stars)

  • List.co.uk
  • 7 August 2006

This article is from 2006.

The initial premise of this piece by New York company The Civilians is that if you send some actors out with tape recorders and record folks’ observations about how they know what the truth is, you can weave from the transcripts a night of strong political cabaret. Implausible on the face of it, but quite true, if you’ll allow me a word that the show proceeds to question.

In it, a succession of narrators, including a whole crowd of women called Jessica Lynch, but not the one who was rescued by a commando task force, or became the subject of a military photo opportunity, depending on how you look at it, during the Iraq war, are asked whether they believe they were told the whole truth about the story of their namesake. These, and many other answers are intriguing.

What emerges, after some moving and often very comical renditions of songs by Michael Friedman in Steve Cosson’s intriguing and powerful production, is a peculiar kind of optimism in the world, a reassuring moment where we realise that we are very far from alone in our uncertainty about the world. All grand narrative, from the bullshit churned about the Iraq war by our governments to our capacity to subscribe to the notion of love as an absolute value beyond history and circumstance are questioned. If the question of whether the postmodernist rejection of all grand narratives isn’t in fact the biggest grand narrative of all is not quite answered, there’s a huge amount to chew on here. Not least, the skilled and thoroughly accomplished performers, who actually contrive to bring Schrodinger’s cat into the action without the least disruption of the humour and pathos of the piece. A cracking night’s entertainment for anyone who’s ever loved or dabbled in empiricism. (Steve Cramer)

Assembly Rooms, 226 2428, until 28 Aug (not 14), 3.15pm, £11-£12 (£10-£11).

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